Your primary care doctor is usually your go-to when you are first diagnosed with sinusitis. They often prescribe medications and other conservative therapies to help relieve your symptoms. However, if several months down the line these symptoms fail to improve with traditional treatments, your GP may refer you to an ENT. ENT specialists specialize in diseases of the ear, nose, and throat and can perform Houston Sinus Surgery to fix chronic sinusitis. But how do you know when surgery is necessary? Should you schedule a session with an ENT one month into your sinus symptoms? Or should you wait until the pain is unbearable? Here are five indications that you should be considering sinus surgery.
Recurring Sinus Infections
Chronic sinusitis is characterized by sinus symptoms that do not go away, even with treatment. They may last for over 12 weeks or recur at least three different times in a year. With each infection, you may experience severe headaches, nasal congestion, and facial tenderness or pain that make daily activities unbearable. These symptoms may fail consistently to respond to treatments like steroid sprays and saline rinses. In this case, your doctor may recommend surgery as a more permanent solution.
Deviated Septum and Breathing Difficulties
Research suggests that about 8 in every 10 people have a deviated septum to some degree. This is a structural abnormality wherein the wall separating your nostrils leans more to one side. In some of these 8 people, the deviation is severe enough to cause breathing difficulties. It also increases their risk of chronic sinusitis and sleep apnea, a condition characterized by interrupted breathing during sleep. While breathing difficulties are serious enough on their own, sleep apnea can also raise your risk of serious medical conditions like hypertension. Your doctor may recommend surgery to avoid this.
Most sinus infections are bacterial so many patients rarely bother to check the cause of their infection. This is unfortunate because some sinus infections are caused by fungus. While often similar to bacterial versions, fungal sinusitis can cause more severe symptoms. They also do not respond to antibiotics and may only respond to surgery. This is especially true when the infection spreads beyond the sinuses.
Not many people need surgery for sinus symptoms. However, most doctors recommend it after a patient has undergone “maximum medical treatment” for up to 4 to 6 weeks. This means that you have used home treatments, taking medications, and undergone other traditional treatments with no improvements in your symptoms. At 4 or 6 weeks, your doctor will perform a CT scan to determine the cause of the problem and whether you need surgery.
Nasal polyps are benign water-filled sacs that develop and hang off your nasal cavity lining. Sometimes, they grow so large that they cause passage blockages, leading to mucus buildup and chronic allergy symptoms. In this situation, your doctor may choose to remove the polyps through surgery.
Discuss Your Treatment Options with an ENT Specialist
Sinus problems are common and often mild enough that they improve on their own or with conservative treatments. Unfortunately, for some people, sinus symptoms can be severe and debilitating enough to compromise their quality of life. This might be when sinus surgery is necessary. However, you should always discuss your treatment options with an ENT before going under the knife. It is important that you understand why surgery is necessary and how it will help your situation.